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Racing: Refuse to Bend in Derby fave form.

Byline: STEVEN TILL

IRISH raider Refuse To Bend kept his unbeaten record intact with a scintillating victory in the Sagitta 2000 Guineas at Newmarket yesterday.

The Moyglare Stud-owned Sadler's Wells colt, a 9-2 chance, leapt to the head of the betting for next month's Vodafone Derby following his three-quarters of a length success over Zafeen. Norse Dancer was a further head back in third and Tout Seul fourth.

The slowly-run early stages of the one-mile Classic were dictated under duress by Muqbil and Saturn, with Pat Smullen happy to keep Refuse To Bend around three lengths off the pace.

With the field scrimmaging inside the final quarter-mile it was Hurricane Alan and then Tout Seul who gave their connections hopes of success until Smullen pounced on the Dermot Weld-trained winner with a well-timed run to take it up close home.

'He ran a super race,' said Weld. 'He got a great ride from Pat Smullen and did it like a professional racehorse.

'He's a very decent colt, that's why he's unbeaten.'

Weld, who trained Refuse To Bend's half-brother Media Puzzle to win last year's Melbourne Cup, felt his charge had a great chance of victory when he advertised his well-being with a smart home gallop on Tuesday.

'I delayed the decision but he worked very sweetly and the ground came perfect for us,' Weld said.

'I didn't want to run him on very firm ground and waited to look at the make-up of the race before we committed him.'

The race was not without incident and Hurricane Alan's jockey Jimmy Fortune received a three-day ban (May 12-14) for careless riding after the stewards ruled that he had allowed his seventh-placed mount to hang left without straightening up, causing interference to Jay Gee's Choice which resulted in trouble in running for Muqbil and Indian Haven.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 4, 2003
Words:304
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